Grades are in, and California still has a long way to go to be a national leader in terms of economic mobility. Despite our vast resources and innovative spirit, California is ranked 33 out of 50 states on the newly released Opportunity Index.
Developed by the Opportunity Nation coalition, of which Opportunity Fund is a part ofmember, the Opportunity Index looks at 16 economic, educational and community factors that are key attributes of helping families get ahead. In addition to the basics such as unemployment, high school graduation and crime rates, it also looks at less known but still key factors such as bank access, income inequality and civic involvement.
Where California is weakest: Civic participation, housing affordability, income inequality.
Where California is strongest: Average household income, high speed internet access, preschool attendance.
To make it local, you can look at the rates and get a letter grade for your county. Looking at a map of California, you can see that opportunities are not spread out equally across the state. For example, to take two counties that Opportunity Fund serves, Santa Clara County gets a B grade (stronger than the state average on everything but availability of grocery stores). In comparison, Riverside County receives a C- (with issues including high housing costs relative to income, lower preschool attendance rates and a high rate of young people neither in school nor working).
At Opportunity Fund, we believe that the opportunities available to a young person shouldn’t be determined by the resources their parents have or to the zip code they happen to live in. That’s why we’re committed to expanding our microfinance efforts to more California neighborhoods and communities without a 4.0 GPA.